Jan 292012
 

Disabled activists from as far away as Edinburgh and Cornwall descended on central London yesterday afternoon determined to make a space for their voices and concerns to be heard.
With the utmost ease 20 wheelchair users were chained up across the road near Oxford Circus bringing the traffic in Regent Street to a total halt. The wheelchair users were supported by many more disabled activists with invisible impairments and supporters from UKUNCUT and Right to Work.
A coach driver who was trying to take passengers to the theatre said he stopped at the traffic lights and then suddenly the coach was trapped and unable to move anywhere. Busses were backed up all along Regent Street for over 2 hours.
It remains wrong that when tax evasion by the wealthy runs at £25 billion and neither the government or opposition parties make any attempt to collect this money disabled people, single parents and unemployed people are being made the scapegoats for the Condems savage and unnecessary austerity cuts.
Disabled people heartened by the success of  yesterday’s actions say this is only the beginning of renewed efforts on their part to have the Welfare Reform Bill overturned, and that even if this is passed their battle against it will continue.
Maria a DPAC supporter said ” we’ve shown today that we aren’t invisible and it’s now time that politicians stop viewing us as vulnerable. We’re not vulnerable and together we can wreak havoc to the streets of London”
More links to press coverage are at https://www.facebook.com/groups/DPAC2011/ and www.dpac.uk.net

 

What needs to be done NOW

More information about the Welfare Reform Bill and how it will push many people including those working on low incomes into destitution and further poverty can be found on DPAC’s website together with a template letter which we are asking people to send to their MPs now asking them to vote against the Welfare Reform Bill in its current form.
On Wednesday February 1st Condem MPs are planning to overturn democracy and vote to ignore amendments to the Welfare Reform Bill passed in the Lords. Please tell your MP this is wrong.

Jan 282012
 

It started this morning with Adam Lotun on BBC Breakfast

After the starting point at Holburn, protestors stopped traffic at Oxford Street – from ITN News. Sam Brackenbury speaking into microphone held by Howard Jones.

Video from The Guardian by John Domokos which cannot be embedded- watch it at http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/video/2012/jan/28/welfare-reforms-protest-oxford-circus

 

Report from The Guardian

Protesters in the West End campaign against the government’s welfare reform bill. Photograph: John Stillwell/PA

Disability campaigners have blocked one of central London‘s busiest road junctions with a line of wheelchair users chained together in the first of a series of protests against government welfare cuts.

The demonstration – which brought much of Oxford Circus to a standstill for more than two hours – was the result of an alliance between disabled groups and UK Uncut, which has staged similar protests against corporations accused of avoiding tax.

The protest was organised by Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC), while UK Uncut provided advice on how to stage an eyecatching, media-friendly event and brought along several of its own supporters.

The direct action began just before midday when a group of wheelchair users lined themselves along the northern edge of Regent Street, blocking traffic in both directions. The wheelchairs were chained together, and then chained to railings on either side of the road.

Within about 20 minutes, with traffic stationary and congestion spilling over into other streets, around 300 people were standing at the junction, chanting, playing drums and waving placards against the welfare reform bill, which is currently going through parliament.

After the road had been blocked for just over an hour, police asked over a loudhailer that the protesters move, which they refused to do. Eventually, at around 2pm, they unchained themselves and left voluntarily.

Planned cuts to the disability living allowance under the bill could see 500,000 disabled people losing money, the charity Mencap said.

Many of the disabled people taking part said they had never before joined a demonstration but felt angry at both the proposed cuts and the associated rhetoric from both ministers and the media.

“The tabloids have created this idea that we’re scroungers or fakers,” said Steven Sumpter, a 33-year-old who left his home in Evesham, Worcestershire, at 6.30am to join the line of chained-up wheelchair users. “This has allowed the government to do this – I think disabled people are seen as a good scapegoat.”

Merry Cross, from Reading, Berkshire, said disabled people needed to work together to get their voices heard. She said: “We’re seen as quite an easy target. We’re not a natural community – we don’t necessarily live in the same places, and we can find it hard to get together. That makes it easy for the government to think they can target us.”

Changes to the disability living allowance were likely mean her losing care assistance at home, Cross said, adding: “I’ve had it continuously for 20 years and now, when I’m 61, apparently I can cope fine without it. It doesn’t make any sense.”

Josie, 52, from Hampshire, who asked not to give her full name, said her disablity, which has left her with limited mobility and near-constant pain, was caused by a fall onto a concrete floor at work 10 years ago.

“I was doing three jobs until my accident and I was a keen hill walker,” she said. “But with the injuries from the fall I can only work part time. I’m probably going to have to give them up now because the cuts will mean I get less help.

“I’ve never been on a protest before, but the government’s plans make me so angry.”

A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman said the government remained “absolutely committed to supporting disabled people”, spending more than £40bn a year on support.

He said: “Households where someone receives disability living allowance will be exempt from the benefit cap, and we are giving local authorities an additional £190m over four years to ensure vulnerable people are supported through the housing benefit reform, so we are not expecting people to become homeless.

“The introduction of the universal credit, from 2013, will see a simpler and fairer system of support for disabled people.

“More importantly, there will be no cash losers at the point of transition to universal credit, and disabled adults in greatest need and severely disabled children will receive more support than now.”

From Socialist Worker

Disabled people block roads in central London against Tory cuts

 

From Sky News

Disabled Protesters Block Regent Street (video )

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